Cooper DeJean Named Nagurski Finalist

IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa junior defensive back Cooper DeJean has been selected as one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. The announcement was made Tuesday by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

In addition to being a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy, DeJean is also a semifinalist for three other national awards: Jim Thorpe Award, Lott IMPACT Trophy and Bednarik Award.

Presented by the FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club, the Nagurski Trophy is awarded to the best defensive player in college football. Former Hawkeye linebackers Josey Jewell (2017) and Pat Angerer (2009) were also finalists for the award.

Joining DeJean as finalists are Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan NewtonGeorgia safety Malaki Starks, Notre Dame safety Xavier Watts and N.C. State linebacker Payton Wilson.

DeJean has played over 400 snaps in coverage this season without giving up a touchdown. He leads the Hawkeyes in pass break-ups (5), is second in interceptions (2) and seventh in tackles (41) this season. One of his two interceptions thwarted a scoring threat in the end zone against Michigan State.

DeJean and the Hawkeyes rank third in the country in scoring defense (12.3), fourth in passing efficiency defense (100.1), sixth in red zone defense (0.682) and eighth in total defense (281.5). Iowa is the only team to have allowed one rushing touchdown in 2023.

On special teams, DeJean had a 70-yard game-deciding touchdown late in the fourth quarter against Michigan State. He leads the Big Ten and ranks 13th nationally with an 11.5 punt return average and he is second nationally in punt return touchdowns.

The Odebolt, Iowa, native was a midseason first-team All-America selection by the Associated Press, The Athletic, ESPN and FOX.

The award is named after Bronislau “Bronko” Nagurski and his legendary talents. He was a consensus All-American defensive tackle in 1929, and also an All-American fullback in 1929, becoming the only player ever picked at two positions in the same season.

The FWAA All-America Committee selects the defensive player of the year who is part of the 2023 FWAA All-America Team and presented with the trophy at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banqueton Dec. 4, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Iowa (8-2, 5-2) will host Illinois (5-5, 3-4) in its home finale Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (CT) on Duke Slater Field at Kinnick Stadium. The game will be televised on FS1 and broadcast on the Hawkeye Radio Network.

Hawkeye Finalists
Cooper DeJean — Nagurski Award

Hawkeye Semifinalists
Cooper DeJean — Jim Thorpe Award // Lott IMPACT Trophy // Bednarik Award
Joe Evans — Burlsworth Trophy
Jay Higgins — Dick Butkus Award
Drew Stevens — Lou Groza Award
Tory Taylor — Ray Guy Award